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rolandlinda3
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Reged: 01/24/06
Posts: 3140
Loc: Crozet VA 22932
Teaching Ugandan children the sky by sketching?? new
      #1618140 - 05/21/07 11:02 PM

Ladies and gents,

Background.

My wife and I are developing an abbreviated observational astronomy course for teachers and children in a small rural town in Uganda. We have been friends with a wonderful Ugandan lady for several years who is responsible for founding two private schools and an orphanage in an area of Uganda that is very poor and has been affected by aids and other events over the last two decades. There are over 300 children and probably less than a dozen teachers. Conditions are primitive. We do, however, have email connectivity with the Ugandan work via an office in Kampala, so we can get some computer-based files back and forth electronically.

Why sketching is important. We do not know a better way to teach observational astronomy than for people to learn to draw what they see. Hence, a significant part of the astronomy mini-course will be sketching what they see through a couple scopes we will also provide and leave with them. (We have yet to choose the scopes, but they will be basic designs that are relatively hearty and include just a few EPs for low and medium magnification.) However, we have to choose the RIGHT materials and teach the RIGHT basics and choose the RIGHT example objects to make this mini-course work. In addition, whatever materials are needed for the course, we must take--they cannot get them locally. If they could, it would be cost prohibitive. We do not have time to teach an art class but we want to cover enough basics with a pre-chosen set of materials for them to get started...and for them to see results...and be encouraged.

We have several months to develop the material we will take but we have to do it wisely. We will not be packing the materials until late 2007 and our actual trip will not occur until 2008 so I have some time to anticipate problems, gather materials, and organize the classes. We presume we will be teaching the teachers and most of the older children during the space of a few weeks.

Our questions...

If any one has ever done something similar with a disadvantaged group (an admittedly US term), then I could use some knowledge and information regarding your experience.

What paper material would be best for a wide range of sketching applications that we will also use for astronomy sketching of the moon and major sky objects?

What drawing medium would be best, tolerate heat and moisture, and keep for a period of time? Should we use individual sheets or rolls that we cut or pads?

What do you believe are the essentials for orientation to sketching to get them exposed to enough basic technique so they can start to draw what they see in the sky? We don't have time to give an art course, so we have to get the right set of abbreviated essentials up front.

What techniques with the selected paper and medium are best for children about 10-12 and older to try, master, and see results?

What daytime practice would you recommend if I take sample pictures to work from? Can you recommend or do you have a copiable set of sketches of some key objects and sections of the moon where they can see how a sketch is developed?

Is there an English-based basic tutorial that you would recommend that we could adapt for this project that is in a soft copy form in MSword that might be suitable that we could work with? (They have windows 95/98 and MSWord at the ministry's office in Kampala, but there will be nothing of the sort on the actual site where the schools are located.)

Thanks for reading. If anyone has questions, let us know. If a moderator reads this and can possibly keep this post up near the top for a month or so, we would appreciate it. We anticipate it might take some thinking about some of the questions, so I don't want to see the thread lost in soup if it's possible.

Roland (and Linda) Beard
Crozet VA USA

--------------------
Roland
Blog: www.rolandlinda3.wordpress.com
Older sketches in Members Galleries (rolandlinda3)
For other sketches/inspirational stories: contact me via PM for information


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kraterkid
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Reged: 03/07/05
Posts: 4709
Loc: Jacumba, California
Re: Teaching Ugandan children the sky by sketching?? new [Re: rolandlinda3]
      #1618450 - 05/22/07 02:25 AM

Hi Roland,

I think this is a wonderful thing to do. You might try contacting some of the major art paper and art media manufacturers about this worthy project. I would think they would be delighted to supply you with all the paper pads you may need for such an effort. I would go with pads, they are a lot easier to handle and each child can keep their own work together. Kind of a natural portfolio. Both white and black paper could be used. Graphite pencil and chalks are pretty easy to come by so I'd probably use those in teaching. This is a fantastic idea Roland and Linda!

--------------------
Rich



My CN Gallery




Edited by kraterkid (05/22/07 02:29 AM)


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Erix
Toad Lily


Reged: 12/25/04
Posts: 24022
Loc: Texas, USA
Re: Teaching Ugandan children the sky by sketching new [Re: kraterkid]
      #1618625 - 05/22/07 07:26 AM

I always carried a spiral sketching book with me everywhere I went when I was a child. The pads would lose their paper after a few 'flips' where the spiral kind won't.

As for the most durable paper I've ever run across, it is hands down "Rite in the Rain". The only downfalls are it's not easy to erase mistakes and some find it difficult with blending. Neither are a problem for me, but a child might have a hard time since when you are first starting to learn, you might use the eraser a lot. But it can be raining and I can still use it (I have a pad I take on landscaping jobs because I usually end up going on an initial visit in poor weather so I don't waste the good weather on talking and taking measurements).

I'd agree with Rich on the chalks (I'd like to add charcoal too, though) and pencils. You could keep it very basic with those and teach them the essentials to get them going.

As for essentials, shape and size are two biggies for me. For example, the shape of a crater. If the crater shape is spot on and there are one or two distinguishing features added as well, it doesn't matter what other detail you have...chances are it will be recognizable as long as a date/time is added. Once they learn that, then they can go for the detail. Teach them by little steps how to train your eye and your hand to capture more and more detail with each session. But the basic shapes and sizes to me are the most important.

I'd also start off with easy, non complex targets such as a simple crater instead of a complex one. A constellation instead of a galaxy, etc. Have you considered some solar film so filters can be made inexpensively to teach them about our nearest star?

As for tutorials, Linda and you both are very experienced observers/sketchers and I can think of no one better to create a tutorial suited exactly for this purpose. However if you wanted tutorials already created, we have a few threads with tutorials at the top of this sketching forum that could easily be transfered to Word or a similar application. You most certainly have permission from me to use any of my sketches, pictures or tutorials that I may have posted in the past.

As for daytime practice, anything that they see and sketch is going to be good practice. I'd recommend both real life targets as well as photos so that they can practice both 3D and 2D....rocks, tree bark, hands, photos, anything.

I'm really happy to hear you both have taken on this very worthwhile project! If there's anything you can think of that we can do to help out, let us know.

--------------------
Erika
Automatic doors make me feel like a Jedi.

Zhumell 16", 10" LX200 Classic,Celestron 102 XLT, ETX70-AT, DS Maxscope 60mm, AT6RC
PCW Memorial Observatory


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rolandlinda3
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Reged: 01/24/06
Posts: 3140
Loc: Crozet VA 22932
Re: Teaching Ugandan children the sky by sketching?? new [Re: rolandlinda3]
      #1635897 - 05/31/07 01:48 PM

Thank you Erika and Rich for the suggestions. Others have contacted us offline. Some notes I have made so far from the responses follows:

1. It seems that the best materials may be inexpensive pads, charcoal, pencils, and chaulk. I agree with the white and black paper also and we have access to both.

2. It has been suggested we try some vendors/suppliers and we shall. We may be able to get a discount rate or try to get damaged goods that are often perfectly usable--just not as pretty. We will gladly take any vendor suggestions if you have some.

3. Erika offered tutorials and we will review some for use. I think I remember several excellent crater-development tutorials by several people. If anyone has a favorite that you think might be suitable for children, let me know and I will save some research time. DSO tutorial or sections of tutorials for low magnification and wide field views will be best. Again, if someone has a favorite and does not mind our using it (we would be glad to pass on the credit for the author), then I need a simple one for fuzzies one might typically see with a pretty wide field and a 4 inch aperture with a mediocre eyepiece (that is what we expect to be teaching from).

4. We figure children will need simple clipboards to draw on. I may make them. Any suggestions here?

5. Our Equipment Forum post as drawn some interesting interest (mostly offline but some on the thread). It looks like we will probably work from low-end refractors with simple mounts. If that makes any difference or refinements in suggestions for the this sketching related thread, then we would be glad to take them.

Thank you for the interest. I will respond to any questions as soon as I can. I figure I have to launch practical steps for materials and development of tutorials by July. So, anything that will help guide our effort that would be suggested from members will be happily reviewed. My wife is downright excited about a pre-project trip in August (if she is strong enough). Some hands-on and face-views of the schools and the children and the infrastructure will help us immensely as we gather steam on the project. As soon as I get some pictures of the kids and schools selected, I will post them because they will provide at least a photo view as of 2006 of the general background where all the materials will go and where we will go in 2008.

Roland

--------------------
Roland
Blog: www.rolandlinda3.wordpress.com
Older sketches in Members Galleries (rolandlinda3)
For other sketches/inspirational stories: contact me via PM for information


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rolandlinda3
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Reged: 01/24/06
Posts: 3140
Loc: Crozet VA 22932
Re: Teaching Ugandan children the sky by sketching?? new [Re: rolandlinda3]
      #1671243 - 06/19/07 02:02 PM

Thank you again for the suggestions. We have a set of small scopes now for the kids in Uganda and have some books being sent that will help us form the observing course. One thing we do not have is a good suggestion for a small book or pamphlet that we could use as an introduction to sketching for middle and high school age children. Does anyone have a suggestion? The tutorials and members have provided some excellent material for sketching objects, planets, and the moon, but I am unfamiliar with a real basic sketching guide. If I can find one that is appropriate, evaluate it, then obtain it in quantity, then the Ugandan teachers in these schools can have a good reference to get them started. If you have an idea, let me know. In the meantime, I am going to start scurrying around for paper and drawing materials.

Around July 1 I will request the sticky be taken off this thread so it will fade from first page view. If you have any suggestions after that date, please send me a private message. Many thanks.

Roland Beard

--------------------
Roland
Blog: www.rolandlinda3.wordpress.com
Older sketches in Members Galleries (rolandlinda3)
For other sketches/inspirational stories: contact me via PM for information


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Erix
Toad Lily


Reged: 12/25/04
Posts: 24022
Loc: Texas, USA
Re: Teaching Ugandan children the sky by sketching new [Re: rolandlinda3]
      #1693236 - 07/01/07 08:50 AM

As requested by Roland, I am unsticking this thread.

Thanks to everyone that has pm'd, emailed, and added to his threads on CN with their support and advice.

Good luck Linda and Roland! Keep us posted on the progress.

--------------------
Erika
Automatic doors make me feel like a Jedi.

Zhumell 16", 10" LX200 Classic,Celestron 102 XLT, ETX70-AT, DS Maxscope 60mm, AT6RC
PCW Memorial Observatory


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markseibold
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 01/19/08
Posts: 1493
Loc: Portland Oregon
Re: Teaching Ugandan children the sky by sketching?? new [Re: rolandlinda3]
      #2832726 - 12/30/08 01:14 PM

Roland

I must commend you and Linda on your efforts with this project as you have given one of the greatest gifts ever to these students and teachers. I found this message thread by accident while searching other information on the web about astronomy sketching.

I knew that you had traveled on many missions from your recent messages but I was not aware of this specific project. I see that this teaching project was over a year ago, long before I knew of CN.

Although I see that you requested any further suggestions as private messages; as I could not really imagine adding any above all of the excellent advice from the others here at CN; it was enlightening to read some of the useful input from the others here; I would be curious to hear about some of the results as it could be useful for future programs.

Thanks for any information on the results as I have been wanting to develop and work with a similar program for students and teachers; and/or volunteer to utilize my artistic skills, whether local or abroad.

Mark

Edited by markseibold (12/30/08 01:15 PM)


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rolandlinda3
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Reged: 01/24/06
Posts: 3140
Loc: Crozet VA 22932
Re: Teaching Ugandan children the sky by sketching?? [Re: markseibold]
      #2834573 - 12/31/08 01:46 PM

Thanks, Mark. I did not know anyone was still reading this. We taught 3 classes during the November trip; we are returning in late Jan to teach another set of classes along with many other tasks. The sketches I did as samples for them are in the rolandlinda2 gallery under the subfolder for Uganda.

In countries like this you cannot get telescopes at all. So we send complete kits, teach them how to use stuff, set up and take down the scopes, then begin the curriculum. I talked with a sketcher from India...same conditions...getting equipment is very hard and most people cannot afford anything if something was available. There are some additional threads on the project (this part of it). Send me a PM if you are interested in any more details.

Roland

--------------------
Roland
Blog: www.rolandlinda3.wordpress.com
Older sketches in Members Galleries (rolandlinda3)
For other sketches/inspirational stories: contact me via PM for information


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